If trading was a race, it would fall into the marathon category – that’s what everybody says. But I don’t necessarily agree with it.
Trading is a marathon, not a sprint – rebuttals
At a simple Google search, this quote appears everywhere. Articles after articles after articles containing the same information, in different forms. Although I agree with most of what these articles communicate, some things require clarification.
Just a short note before I start: the arguments I'm about to make address the basic meaning of the phrase, not the symbolic meaning. I entirely support learning the markets, identifying your strengths and weakness, establishing risk management strategies, and developing a plan before jumping into trading – the connotative meaning of the quote.
But there are people out there who might believe that trading only works with long-term approaches and strategies. And that’s far from the truth. Let me tell you why
1. Sometimes it could be better to run the 100 m race than go for the 42 km marathon.
If all market participants would blindly follow the teaching in question, then the entire trading world would be reduced significantly. Scalpers would disappear entirely (if you're not familiar with the term, check out our article entitled “Types of traders – which one resembles you most”). Position traders would dominate, with their marathon-like attitude. There would be little to no excitement left in trading.
Of course, this is only my opinion. You don’t necessarily need to share it, but you can take your time to think about it.
2. Sprinters also have plans and stick to them
A common argument against “sprinting” is that certain people do it without preparation. They just aim for large profits without even taking their time to learn how the markets work and without setting up a robust trading plan. That’s partially true, but you cannot simply put everyone in the same boat. Again, if all so-called sprinters would be trading without a plan, there would be no scalpers left. Technical analysis would perhaps exist no more. It would change in something very different from how we know it today.
3. What matters is the final results, no matter how you get there.
This applies to all traders, irrespective of their level of knowledge. Plenty of them don't even take it into account when investing. They only see the trees and completely forget about what's truly important: the forest.
A single, scattered trade shouldn’t matter in the big scheme of things. Many people fall into this trap: they try to get themselves out of trouble and recover some of their lost money with reckless, clumsy moves. This is not how pacing works. Remember, it’s your results over a large sample size of trades that matters.
In the same idea, it’s not important how you choose to pace your trading career. It only counts if you’re happy with the final results or not. Whether you opt to be a scalper and sprint your way towards the finish line 100 times a day or stick to trade for a month just like a position trader, everything's fine as long as you reach your target.
The goal is not to win long-term, it's simply to win
You could have success in the financial markets world as long as you follow several simple rules:
- Commit to it - people who commit to something and are really driven to try their best are much more likely to succeed than those who treat trading like a hit-and-run goldmine
- Learn the basics at the start – take your time to understand the essential things about trading, such as price action strategies, fundamental trading techniques, and risk management
- Create a trading plan – knowing what you aim for and how you intend to get there is useful in trading, just like in the real-life
If you tick all these boxes, you are a step closer to achieving your goals. And your goal should be to win, on long-term, short-term or medium-term. Whichever you prefer.
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